Bangladesh evacuates 1.5 million ahead of Cyclone Hamoon

(Update 1: increases number of evacuees, adds detail of cyclone’s change in course, earlier landfall)

Dhaka, Oct 24 (EFE).- Bangladeshi authorities on Tuesday ordered the evacuation of around 1.5 million people from coastal areas amid the imminent arrival of powerful tropical cyclone Hamoon.

The storm, carrying gusts of up to 110 kilometers per hour (68 miles per hour), was situated around 285 kilometers (177 miles) southwest of the port of Chittagong at 4:30 pm on Tuesday.

Meteorologist Bazlur Rashid told EFE that the cyclone had moved northeastward and now expected to make landfall in Bangladesh between late evening and midnight on Tuesday between Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar district.

“The frontal part of the cyclone will hit the coast between 6 pm to 9 pm tonight. It will complete the crossing of the Bangladesh coast by night. The wind flow will not be very intense. We are not expecting a big tidal surge either,” he said.

The Bangladesh Meteorological Department, in a special weather bulletin issued at 4:30 am on Tuesday, had asked the maritime ports of Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar to hoist danger signal no. 7.

Mongla and Payra ports have been asked to hoist danger signal no. 5.

Bangladesh uses the traditional signaling method to issue warnings about cyclones, with signal 10 indicating the greatest danger.

Authorities said they were speeding up their evacuation efforts after the cyclone altered its course.

“We have started the evacuation at noon in 10 districts. Cox’s Bazar was added to it later because the cyclone moved eastwards,” Ahmadul Haque, head of Bangladesh’s Cyclone Preparedness Programme, told EFE.

“We have targeted evacuating 1.5 million people. The figure could vary now that the cyclone had changed its direction. We are hoping to complete the task by 8 pm,” he said.

“We have around 7,000 shelters. 4,000 of them will be used. Our 78,000 volunteers are engaged in evacuation work,” he added.

This is the second cyclone formed in the Bay of Bengal that will hit Bangladesh this year, after Mocha in May.

The country’s geographical location makes it especially vulnerable to cyclones, which occur mostly between April and May and between October and November.

The last major cyclone to hit the country was Amphan, which killed nearly 100 people in Bangladesh and neighboring India in May 2020. EFE


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